Reproductive Rights = Human Rights


We believe in human rights. We believe in the rights of individuals to construct the families that they want to have for themselves. This includes who they choose to love and whether or not they choose to have children at any point in their lives. There is no freedom in a society that does not allow for this right to choose.

As a business, it is important for us to share with our community that we plan to support the reproductive rights of our employees if that is asked of us. We stand in support of the businesses that have made formal commitments to their employees. At the same time, we feel discomfort around the idea that access to reproductive rights should be gifted out by HR departments as a corporate privilege. They are a fundamental human right.



Like most Mother’s Days, ours came and passed in the usual way - with certain expectations that are almost impossible to meet, because, well, you are still mothering your way through the day.

A month ago, I (Chelsea) moved back into the studio after 2+ years of working from home. Over the last couple of years, school and childcare haven't always been consistent for our family. We needed flexibility to get through, so it made sense to move my work home.

We've been grateful for our ability to adjust day to day without permission from anyone, but it has been challenging to live in a state of continuous adaptation. For the most part, we have been buoyed up by our clients and their encouragement as we rolled through the cumulative trials of this time.



Every year on April 22, Earth Day marks the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. This anniversary is now widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world, marked by more than a billion people each year as a day of action to shift human behavior and create policy change.

If you’ve been following this newsletter for a while, you know that social and environmental responsibility is at the core of everything we do. Our recent B Corp certification is one way we have formalized this commitment. We have talked a lot in the past about the materials we use from FSC and reclaimed wood to climate negative regenerative cork, but there is actually a process we have been utilizing from the start that will probably have an even larger impact over the life of our business - our made-to-order production.

Our made-to-order approach was born out of necessity when we had no confidence in our sales and nothing to invest in large production runs. Over time, the results of this process have been a welcome extension of our ethos. It allows us to eliminate a tremendous amount of waste by never producing more than we need to. At the end of the day, we know that everything we make has a home to go to.

We're a B Corp!


We are beyond excited to announce that Grain, our tiny studio in the woods, has joined the community of 4,000+ visionary businesses across 75+ countries to legally commit to balancing purpose and profit as a certified Benefit Corporation. This community of B Corps is driving the global movement of business as a force of good and we are deeply humbled to have our efforts working towards this common goal. 

We cannot overstate how much this commitment means to us. When we founded our studio in 2008 in our island home and garage shop, we weren’t 100% sure what we would be making, but we knew that it needed to center around social and environmental responsibility. 

We learned about B Corp’s through Patagonia - a business that we’ve always looked up to for its vision and commitment to sustainability. We read everything we could and used the B Corp assessment as a kind of road map to help us think about our business in the most holistic way we had ever imagined. We realized early on that we were doing many things that added up in certain areas - such as environmental impact - but had so many things to learn when it came to our governance and how we supported our employees. Many things had to be Googled. 

A Time to Winter


We were planning on writing a newsletter summarizing the highlights from the past year and there were many - from launching our cork collection to shipping our largest order ever to becoming Climate Neutral - but as we enter winter and are surrounded again by so many uncertainties, we can’t help but throw up our hands to the season's call of rest and retreat.

It is in that spirit that we share a favorite quote from Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May:

“Plants and animals don’t fight the winter; they don’t pretend it’s not happening and attempt to carry on living the same lives that they lived in the summer. They prepare. They adapt. They perform extraordinary acts of metamorphosis to get them through. Winter is a time of withdrawing from the world, maximising scant resources, carrying out acts of brutal efficiency and vanishing from sight; but that’s where the transformation occurs. Winter is not the death of the life cycle, but its crucible.”

We will be doing our own version of retreat this season - slowing down, making space for creativity and solidifying our processes - so that we can arrive in the spring with something worthwhile to share.

We’re here with you in gratitude and in friendship wishing you all the rest you need this winter.

Grain's Urn for JOIN at NYCxDESIGN


This week as part of NYCxDESIGN, we presented a new piece at JOIN, a group show, curated by Colony. The call asked twelve designers to explore the tactile meanings and emotional complexities of togetherness after so much time apart.

Over the past two years we have all experienced an inordinate amount of grief. As communities, we have had to bear witness to losses that we were not always able to mourn together.

Mid-way through the pandemic, we had a loss in our own family that required us to build a cremation urn. The piece was very simple and somber, but it made us think more about what these vessels could be and about how we could go on living with them.

For JOIN, we were drawn to rethink the urn. Our final design was informed by a trip to a local cemetery where we explained to our daughters how many families decide to be buried together within the same plot of land. It was a sweet conversation about life and death and how the ones we love continue to live on in each of us.

We envisioned a cremation vessel that could be used by a family - father, mother and child - at rest together. The seemingly separate components form one volume on the inside.

We see this piece as an individual work that could be designed to meet the needs of any type of family that finds beauty and comfort in community.

For information on our urn or any of our work, please reach out. We love to hear from you!

At Home with Cork


When launching our cork collection last month, we knew we wanted to start off by sharing our fascination with cork itself. Being a rapidly renewable material and a powerful carbon sink is what drew us to cork to begin with.

That said, it is our hope to build furniture and objects to be passed down for generations. In order to do so, we know we need to speak to more than just material features but to the physical connection you experience when living with these objects.

Introducing: Grain's Cork Collection


We are thrilled to be launching our new cork collection this week at the Colony co-operative showroom in New York. This collection is three years in the making and is fully inspired by the unique properties of cork itself.

In order to talk about the collection, we first have to share what it is about the material that has fascinated us for years.

Grain's Cork Collection Launch at Colony


Three years ago we began to research a material that had long held our curiosity. It is a rapidly renewable material. It is a powerful carbon sink. And, it fully represents the vision we see for our work and our business as a whole as we adapt and grow into the future.

This material fascination is with cork - the outer bark of the cork oak tree that grows in Mediterranean climates and can live for up to 200 years.

We are pleased to announce that we will be launching a new collection of cork furniture informed by the unique properties of this material as part of Here at Colony, 2021 in New York on September 22 - 24, 2021.

Along with our new cork collection, Here at Colony, 2021 will feature new patterns from Flat Vernacular, a new series of works from architecture studio Workshop/APD as well as little seen new pieces from Bec BrittainA SpaceDeborah CzereskoHiroko Takeda and Vonnegut/Kraft.

If you are in New York and can safely make it to one of the open days, please RSVP here for the COVID compliant staggered entry. We hope you can make it!

Back to School


Though autumn solstice is still a few weeks off, the change of season feels upon us both at home and in the studio. Our kids go back to school (1st Grade! Pre-K!) in person this week with new teachers and class pets. Our studio is feeling a similar eager and optimistic energy with two new woodworkers joining us full-time.

We’re also excited to be launching our new cork collection on September 22 (equinox!) at Colony in New York. With shows cancelled in 2020, this collection has been long deferred, but somehow feels just right for this moment. It is warm. It is regenerative. And, it wants to be touched!

Summer Heat & Adapting to Change


Earlier this month we experienced a record-breaking heatwave here in the Pacific Northwest that is now linked to hundreds of deaths and the loss of over a billion sea creatures. This may not be the best opener for a furniture design-related newsletter, but experiencing that heat makes it hard to think of anything else.

Our family was safe in a house with a cool basement surrounded by the Salish Sea. We ate no-cook dinners. We jumped in the ocean before bed and slept with wet hair. We made it an adventure for our kids. In the same way we tried to make Zoom school an adventure. In the same way we made staying inside due to wildfire smoke last summer an adventure.

As a business, we have adapted to a tremendous amount over the past 16 months. We are still navigating post-pandemic realities that have slowed our lead times and have made sourcing materials and working with artists and other vendors more challenging.

An Ode to Our Pool Rug


When we launched our Pool Rug in 2016, a designer we admire came up to our booth at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, took one enthusiastic look, and said, “Oh, I get it. It’s the new cowhide rug.” You get used to taking in spontaneous first impressions at trade shows, but this one kind of stuck with us because it gave us insight into what it was about the rug that was exciting. This kind of reciprocal relationship with our clients over time has more deeply shaped our practice than I think we’ll ever know.

Over the past five years of making these rugs and seeing where they end up, we have had a chance to witness this design’s ability to create space and movement within a floor plan. Its biomorphic shape breaks up the rectilinearity of an interior and allows designers to reimagine their furniture compositions. So, this newsletter is an ode to our Pool Rug, but even more so, it is an ode to the designers who have used it to envision new relationships within space.



A few weeks ago, The New York Times ran a story about the Michelin-starred restaurant Eleven Madison Park going plant-based that momentarily took our breath away. Within a few hours, several friends had sent us the link. It was clearly a moment they knew we’d want to note.

The famously thoughtful chef, Daniel Humm, is quoted saying: “It became very clear to me that our idea of what luxury is had to change. We couldn’t go back to doing what we did before.” He was speaking about the social and environmental scrutiny of our global food system and how that intensified for him during the pandemic.

If you have been following our newsletters, you know that level of scrutiny is something we have been working on ourselves in regards to everything from sourcing our raw materials, to how we staff our studio, to how we account for our carbon footprint.

Climate Neutral Certified


This Earth Day, we're celebrating that we are officially Climate Neutral Certified!

We joined 215 brands in offsetting all of our 2020 carbon emissions by purchasing carbon credits to fund climate solutions and by committing to reduce our future emissions.

When thinking about how to mitigate our footprint, we were inspired to work with Climate Neutral because they are the leading consumer label designating carbon neutrality. As much as we want to believe that our individual actions have a positive impact, we know that working together with a collective would not only make this effort more meaningful but it would also make it more visible.

It is our belief that visibility has the potential to shift culture and eventually systems.

We're Hiring: Woodworker


Work directly with Grain partners, Chelsea and James Minola, in our Bainbridge Island studio to bring furniture and objects to life through careful fabrication. Hone your craft skills as you learn our unique manufacturing processes. Lead the care of our shop space and tools. Grow with us as we intentionally expand our twelve-year-old family business and our commitment to people and the planet.

Values-Based Pricing


To celebrate spring this year, we want to do something a little different. We want to share a behind-the-scenes look at the costs that go into furniture manufacturing in America from the vantage point of our tiny studio in the woods. 

For those of you who don’t know our work, we are a family-owned design and manufacturing studio on Bainbridge Island across the Salish Sea from Seattle. For the past twelve years, we have made furniture, lighting, textiles and objects from our home and then eventually a commercial studio space. We have had five full-time and two part-time employees as well as several interns since our inception, but there have been many stretches of time (including this one) where we have worked solo as a husband and wife team. 

In the early days of our business, we felt insecure about our pricing. We were uncomfortable about making things that were considered expensive. We don’t get asked as much as we used to about our pricing. These days, the majority of our sales are to architects and interior designers who do the hard work of educating their clients about why things cost what they do. That said, we thought it might be helpful to share more about how our pricing comes together.

Material Imagination


One benefit of being grounded at home has been spending more time exploring the land we inhabit. Living on an island in the present-day Pacific Northwest means hiking wooded trails and combing the shore for washed-up treasure. These are places we know well as they are the places of our childhood. As well as being our current home, they are the ancestral summer fishing grounds of the Suquamish and Salish Coast Tribes that inhabited them for centuries.

This past spring, in an effort to keep up with our kids and their endless collections of sea glass and favorite rocks, we started collecting pottery shards. We wonder about these blue and white shards that find their way to this particular stretch of beach. Recently a piece washed up with the words “Buffalo Pottery 1914” and it took our imaginations with it. We could not help but be curious about the journey it took over a hundred years ago from upstate New York to the shores of the Salish Sea. 

Unbroken Practice


Over the past extraordinary year, we asked ourselves many questions. We wondered about our path and considered leaving the studio in service of something more urgently useful. As a recently certified Wilderness First Responder, James wondered if it was too late to go to medical school. Deep into books on regenerative agriculture, I (Chelsea) imagined kelp farming in the Salish Sea. 

Over dead tired kitchen conversations held in whispers as our girls slept, we kept coming back to the reasons we started this studio and what we are beginning to see come to fruition after twelve years of unbroken practice. 

We talked about the joy of working together in creative partnership. We talked about the vision of our new manufacturing shop and the experimental possibilities it will allow. We also talked about the values of social and environmental responsibility that fuel every aspect of our life together and how they shape the purpose of this business.

Life Lived


One of our greatest pleasures is seeing our work out in the world living a life that we could have never imagined ourselves. It is a reminder that putting things out into the world with intention and care does create a ripple effect. 

For most of our projects, we work directly with architects and interior designers who carefully select and place our work in community with other objects to create an environment that becomes much more than the sum of its parts. 

Our work gets thoughtfully installed and arranged then over time becomes a part of someone’s private life. The Marin County family room designed by Studio AHEAD (seen above) is grounded by our custom Duo Rug and is a perfect example of this process. 

Walls, Hedgerows and Other Boundaries


With small children at home and our local preschool back to remote learning this week, we’ve been thinking a lot about boundaries. There are the boundaries between work life and home life. There are the boundaries between being a parent and also trying to be an adult human. 

Some have completely faded while we Zoom with bedhead at the kitchen table. Others, like being limited to our home and the woods that surround us, feel restrictive as the weather turns dark and stormy. 

When watching new episodes of The Crown this week, we were struck by scenes of the British countryside and by a sense of grief for our limited ability to travel and to be with friends and family - especially this time of year.

To feed that wanderlust, above and below are some images of the stone walls and hedgerows we photographed when last visiting family in the Cotswolds. The interlocking shapes of these dry-stacked limestone walls that trace the historical boundaries of the land - many of which are 500 years old - are what originally inspired our Walling Rug.

Strength in Numbers


As we continue to sit on the edge of our seats in uncertainty, it feels like a good moment to celebrate things that do feel safe and sound - like working together in community. 

We’ve had the privilege to be a part of the burgeoning independent American design community since the start of our studio. Early on, this community helped us build our business in a recession by coming together to share resources, organize group shows and split tradeshow booths.

A Case For Stewardship


Like many on the West Coast, we spent ten days inside our home this month hiding out from wildfire smoke. Though the most threatening fires were at a safe distance from our home and studio, we did have a small brush fire on the island one evening that pushed us to make a go-bag list as we waited for updates from our local fire department. 

When the smoke finally cleared, we were drawn to the mountains. To put our feet on the earth in an intentional way. To take in the mountain air - thinned by altitude - but full of the scent of spruce and juniper. We ate ice from a snow patch with our kids - embodying as much of that mountain as we could. They knew what to do - stretching their bodies all the way out on a great rock under the sun.

We weren’t alone in this work as the trail entrance was more crowded than we'd ever seen. We saw marmots and deer, an anthill and hawks, and crickets and bees. The humans we spotted were responsibly distanced and masked up. They were drawn out to the top of this ridge just like us. If we were looking for hope over the last month, it was here.

In Slow and Steady Service


As a small independent studio nearing 12 years of partnership, we are committed to and respectful of the continuous process required to develop and refine a design practice. Whether working with technology or historical craft techniques, we approach everything in the slow and steady service of curiosity and growth.

Our furniture, lighting and textiles are formed from a selection of considered natural materials. Our intention is to honor these resources and build work that will be cared for and passed down for generations. 

We bring this care into our relationships with ourselves, employees, collaborators, vendors and clients. It is our hope to cultivate a community around this practice that is reciprocal and beneficial. 

Showing Up Imperfectly


Earlier this month we cautiously reopened our studio on Bainbridge Island. Our production assistant, Hannah, returned to work from Seattle via ferry and bike commute. James joined her and they are masked up with safety protocols in place as they work on building furniture and shipping out orders. 

As grateful as we are to be back to work in this new and strange setup, like many, our heads and hearts are elsewhere. We are deeply disturbed by the systemic racism at work in America. From police violence and mass incarceration to how the pandemic hits certain communities harder to the long-standing racist policies built into housing and lending practices, Black people in America experience traumatic injustice every day. This includes living in the neighborhoods most affected by the climate crisis, pollution, contaminated drinking water and lack of food security.

We have been part of the frenetic protesting, donating, workshop taking, petition signing and information gathering and sharing over the past several weeks. We have felt an urgency to educate ourselves further and speak up. Black Lives Matter. Human rights are not optional. 

We also know that we cannot act meaningfully from a place of emotion alone. Antiracist work is intensely personal. It requires time, reflection and commitment.

Grain has always made social and environmental responsibility the metric for measuring success, from materials and finishes, sourcing, production and artisan partnerships, to our carbon footprint and investment in environmental non-profits. As designers, we approach everything through a process of continuous improvement. We are actively at work to transition our business into a B Corporation making these commitments to progress more transparent and ourselves more accountable. 

These are some of the questions we are asking ourselves as we do this work: 

Anti-Racist Resources


The pandemic and the murder of too many Black Americans by police officers underlines the systemic racism in our country. As white citizens, business owners and parents, we will not be silent in the Black Lives Matter civil rights movement.

We recognize that we have a lot of work to do personally and within our small business. The following are some of the anti-racist resources that we have been learning from as we widen our social justice lens.

Black Lives Matter
The Bail Project

Support educators and activists. Many have Venmo or Paypal so that you can support their work directly.

Support Black-owned businesses and media. And, stop supporting businesses and media that promote and fund hate.


Please remember to support educators and activists. Many have Venmo or Paypal so that you can support their work directly.

How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi
Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum
My Grandmother's Hands by Resmaa Menakem
Here and here and here are some suggestions for children.

Please support Black-owned bookstores with your purchases.

1619 from The New York Times 
Race & Healing series from OnBeing
Ibram X. Kendi on How to Be an Antiracist with Brené Brown
Layla Saad Stepping Out of Privilege on The Goop Podcast
The Systems that Protect the Police on The Daily

At Home in the Woods


On one of the first panicky lists we compiled back in March, we planned out how we would optimize our time at home to finish all our house projects and photograph the ways that we live with our work.

The thing is, we do. We do live with our work. We live with early prototypes and trade show seconds. We surround ourselves with these works because it is how we learn. We also trade with friends because their work has something to teach us too. 

All this gets mixed together with family hand-me-downs in a house that is also a family hand-me-down of sorts layered with memory before we even arrived with the next generation.

April Showers


A few months ago, in what now feels like an alternate reality - before we were worried about the health and safety of so many - we decided to phase out the production of our popular Ty Shower Curtain.

Those of you who have been following our work from the beginning will know that these curtains were our first product produced in our garage shop with a few basic tools in the middle of a recession. We wanted to make something useful that solved a different kind of health and safety issue - that of chemical off-gassing in the home.

This issue of toxicity is one that we are still committed to through all of our work. Our furniture, lighting, rugs and textiles all use natural materials and finishes that are safe for your home and family and are never ever treated with flame retardants or stain-resistant chemicals.

The Certainty of Spring


Come with me into the woods where spring is
    advancing, as it does, no matter what,
not being singular or particular, but one
    of the forever gifts, and certainly visible.
- Mary Oliver

Product Focus: Quilt Rug


Our Quilt Rugs take direct inspiration from the patchwork quilt making process. Blocks of braided wool lines are ordered but not exacting as we try to evoke the looser style of scrap quilts which allow irregular shapes to make up the whole. During their conception, we looked at everything from Alabama's Gee's Bend to the work of Oregon artist Shiela Laufer

The historic braid technique that we use to fabricate our rugs was made popular by the women of colonial America as it could be executed by hand without a loom using any available textile scraps.

Today, we fabricate our new wool designs through a partnership with a family-owned mill in New England well known for perfecting this traditional craft.

In the Spirit of Optimism


Maybe it’s the start of the new decade or just twelve years of unbroken practice leading us in this direction, but our vision for Grain as we enter 2020 is one of complete and total optimism. We started this business with the personal goal of working creatively in partnership along with the deeper intention of social and environmental responsibility.

As our business has grown and shifted over the years from practical solutions such as recyclable non-toxic shower curtains, to human-centered projects such as developing sustainable income opportunities for weaving cooperatives in Guatemala, to designing furniture and objects from natural materials and finishes that you can trust to be clean and safe for your home and family, we are always exploring what is possible within this artisan economy.

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